After years of believing that if I were a better person I would become a vegetarian, I finally caved and watched Food, Inc.. I knew that the film — or any of the the many other meat-industry indicting books or media items in the market — would push my conscience over the edge and that I would be forced to truly confront my meat-eating and meat-loving habits. I resisted all of the literature (Eating Animals, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, etc.) for this precise reason: I didn’t want to face the facts that would morally compel me to give up something that I enjoy eating. Ignorance is bliss.
Just as I suspected it would, Food, Inc. depressed and horrified me, and it depressed and horrified Caleb even more; and so without further adieu, Caleb is taking the vegetarian leap, and I’m taking vegetarian steps. (Translation: Caleb is giving up meat; I’m more or less giving up cooking meat — though if I am really craving it I might give in and allow myself to buy the expensive grass-fed, local stuff that I don’t find ethically problematic — and I’ll only eat meat that I haven’t cooked if a) it will go to waste otherwise, or b) it would be rude or an inconvenience to someone else for me not to eat it. And I’m still eating fish. In other words, I’m not becoming a vegetarian, but I am becoming much more conscientious about my consumption.)
As Caleb and I were having conversations about our issues with the meat industry in America, and how it preys upon poor and vulnerable populations while benefiting the wealthy executives of fast food and meat packaging companies, and as I tormentedly came to the decision that something about the way I eat needs to change, I thought: I should write about this. I should write about my grieving the loss of the delicious dollar hamburger in my life and my saying goodbye to favorite recipes like chicken and white bean soup.
And then I thought: if I write about my vegetarian inklings, I will be like every other vegetarian or pseudo-vegetarian out there who feels that their conversion to a grain, plant, and dairy based diet is unique, laudable, and of interest to others. Every vegetarian has their story, and I’m pretty sure that they are all more-or-less the same. There is nothing new under the sun.
And then I thought: but isn’t that true about most things in life? We’re born, we face challenges, we have relationships with others, we experience a gamut of emotions, we die.
If I dismiss an experience as unworthy to discuss because others have experienced and written about it before, than I will need to give up speaking and writing. I’m not about to do that, not only because I enjoy reading and writing, but also because I enjoy hearing and reading about other people’s experiences, even when they are the 900th million person to be expressing themselves about any given topic. On top of that, I believe that we process our life experiences when we write and talk about them, and even if my life is similar to billions others, it’s unique in that it is my one life. I will never live another life, and so I’ve got to make the most of this one, and process the heck out of it.
All of that said, I have a confession: I’ve always found listening to vegetarian narratives boring and annoying; I’m not clueless and arrogant enough to believe that mine will be interesting to anyone but me. So, this post ends here, and with the final words that it’s not a post about becoming a pseudo-vegetarian; it’s a post about writing a post about becoming a pseudo-vegetarian.